El Escorial

Madrid for kids

El Escorial is claimed by some Spanish to be the Eighth Wonder of the World due to it's sheer size.  It was built between 1563 and 1584 to the designs of architect Juan Bautista de Toledo and master builder Juan de Herrera. King Philip II decided to build it to commemorate a victory against the French on August 10, 1557 [Feast day of St Lawrence]and to fulfil a promise he made to his Dad, Charles V, who asked him to build a special royal mausoleum to house all the dead kings and their mothers. The whole design of the monastery, palace and basilica resemble the grill on which St Lawrence was martyred.  He was roasted alive and, according to some, he even told his executioners to turn him over, one side was ready.

Around the Escorial you will see the grill symbol [St Lawrence's attribute] and a few paintings of the St Lawrence's martrydom.  Keep your eyes open! Imagine living where you'll also be lying dead.  King Philip II basically slept above his grave. One local legend is that one of the King's secretaries stole part of the treasure set aside for payment for the building works.  As he was escaping over the surrounding hills he was trapped in quicksand and the treasure and he were lost.  It is said that the statue of St Lawrence above the main entrance is looking in the direction of the exact spot where the secretary met his demise.

Another story relates to the flat arched vaults that Philip II refused to sit under, fearing they would collapse.  He ordered the architect to construct a column under it for support.  Some time after the King died the architect revealed that he hadn't actually made the column meet the ceiling and passed something between the top of the column and the ceiling to prove that the ceiling had not dropped downwards.

Treasure Hunt

1.   As you exit the Architecture Museum you will see this large metal shape hanging on the wall.
What do you think this is?

Can you see the grill and flames in the design?
2. In the Painting Museum find the artwork with these cheeky animals.  Who is the artist?

3. In the Palace where do you see these grills?

4 The nickname for the Palace is

5. In the Palace find the brass meridian lines in the floor.  Now look above the closest window to find a small hole through the wall.  What do you think this hole is for?

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